Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Holiday Gift Ideas

In a few days, the holiday shopping season starts. Although the worst of the recession appears to be behind us, economists are worried that consumer spending will still be down.

Want to help stimulate the economy, spend time with your child, and reduce the chances that the financial crisis occurs in the future?

A long-term strategy receiving little attention is strengthening the economic literacy of our youth. One way to prevent a financial crisis from happening again is to better educate today's youth on economic principles, such as consumption, saving, and investment. Almost all states have economic content standards that begin in Kindergarten, but as parents, we must play a bigger role.

Prior to the financial crisis, parents and teachers had few well-known resources for identifying children's books that teach kids about the importance of saving and the importance of not living beyond one's means. For several years a little known "free" resource has existed at

The concept behind the youth-oriented and user-friendly website is simple. Rutgers economics Professor Yana Rodgers and Williamsburg, VA K-5 reading specialist Shelby Hawthorne have developed a "living" catalog of children's literature that teaches a wide range of economic concepts that are linked to state curriculum standards. The site provides quick lesson ideas that are based on current research in economics and education.

Based on objective research criteria, you can click on an economics concept and obtain a list of the site's "Top Five" choices for acclaimed children's books that use enjoyable stories to teach economics.

The site encourages return visits. It profiles a new book each month, reviews new children's books and identifies their economic content. I am a labor economist , so one of my favorites is "Click Clack Moo," a wonderful story about some cows who go on strike because they want blankets and a duck, who serves as the arbitrator.

For sure, using will not solve the credit card problems that many young adults have gotten themselves into. Nor will it solve the sub-prime lending mess that played a big role in dragging the economy into the worst recession since WWII. However, the site provides some neat stocking stuffer ideas for the holidays that will help your children become savvier and smarter consumers.

In short, you will be investing in your child's future and the nation's return to prosperity. If these economic rationales are not clear, then maybe you, too, will benefit as you read to your child.